The High Court in Kampala has advised the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights-ISER, a civil society organization to settle out of court a case in which they are accusing the government of failing to regulate school fees and requirements.
ISER together with lawyers Michael Aboneka and Andrew Karamagi sued the Attorney General seeking to compel the Minister of Education and Sports to immediately exercise her mandate to draft a policy that will regulate school fees, charges, and all dues payable at any school and tertiary institution in the country.
They also accused the Minister of Education of failing to formulate a legal frame work against discrimination against pregnant girls and breastfeeding mothers in schools.
However, in response, the Attorney General asked Court to dismiss the case saying that no rights of the applicants have been infringed upon.
The Undersecretary Ministry of Education Roger Irumba Kaija, who swore an affidavit on behalf of the Attorney General, says that in April 2021 the Ministry of Education and Sports constituted a committee of Technical officers to draft a statutory instrument to regulate among others school fees and charges payable for Preprimary, primary schools, secondary and post-secondary institutions.
According to Kaija, the Ministry of Education also issued guidelines for the prevention and management of teenage pregnancy in school settings in Uganda which was finalized in 2020 and launched by the first lady Janet Museveni on December 3rd, 2021. Kaija indicates that there is no law that denies pregnant and breastfeeding learners from accessing school.
…the guidelines for the Reopening of Education Standard Operating Procedures- SOPs issued by the Permanent Secretary in December 2021 encouraged schools to allow learners who gave birth to report back to school and continue with studies in line with the Ministry of Education and Sports Revised Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of teenage pregnancy in school settings in Uganda” reads Kaija’s affidavit.
It adds that the guidelines instructed Education institutions to maintain the tuition fees that were charged for the first term of the Academic year 2020.
However, when the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, Justice Phillip Odoki of the Civil Division advised parties to try and settle the matter out of Court and report back to court on March 1st, 2022.
According to the documents before Court, the activists accuse the government of lack of a policy to regulate school dues and requirements and they thus want Court to order the government to immediately put in place regulation of school requirements and any other non-cash contributory items asked by schools in the country.
Dozens of parents with placards protesting hiked fees stormed the Court accompanied the petitioners saying the Minister for Education Janet Museveni should intervene.
Some of the placards had inscriptions such as “Stop Schools from hiking fees”.